Everett schools reckoning with its #metoo legacy

NOW THAT FORMER Everett school superintendent Fred Foresteire is out of a job and facing charges for allegedly indecently assaulting three women, his former employees are speaking out about his bullying behavior.

At WBUR, reporter Max Larkin has dug into the troubling legacy of the man they called Triple F, who led the district for almost 30 years before resigning in December in the face of sexual harassment allegations.

Teachers were barred from bringing coffee into school, maternity leave was scrutinized by the superintendent himself, and Foresteire allegedly let it be known that he preferred women to wear their hair down, and wear skirts or dresses, high heels, and pantyhose.

Foresteire was an outsized presence in Everett. When state lawmakers visited Everett High School for budget hearings in recent years, Foresteire was there to greet them, eager to show off his students who provided classical musical performances for the visiting budget-writers. Foresteire also publicly clashed with Stephen “Stat” Smith, the former House lawmaker from Everett who pled guilty to federal charges of voter fraud six years ago.

The district he led performed pretty well on MCAS tests, reports Larkin, and the football team took home a dozen state championships over the past two decades.

Foresteire’s departure represented another victory for the #metoo and #timesup movements to remove those facing credible charges of sexual harassment from positions of power.

Years before those movements sprang to life in the fall of 2017, another Everett power-player fended off multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

In 2014, The Boston Globe reported that Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria allegedly groped a woman who came to his office for help. Among three other women who accused DeMaria of sexual harassment was a city employee who said the mayor asked her for oral sex. DeMaria denied the accusations and remains in office after winning re-election unopposed in 2017.

The city is also the site of the planned Encore Boston Harbor, a casino resort dreamed up by Steve Wynn, who resigned from his casino empire after allegations of sexual harassment and rape were surfaced by The Wall Street Journal. Wynn also denies those charges.

The fate of the casino is in the hands of the state Gaming Commission, which will determine whether Wynn Resorts can keep its gaming license following the revelations about the company’s founder.

The future for Everett’s schools is also unclear. WBUR reports that School Committee member Frank Parker told a group of concerned parents that the district will work with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to run an open search for a good candidate by the end of the year.

“What I tell people is we’re going to enter a period of enlightenment: more openness, more communication,” Parker said.